This wrecked world is haunted by questions. None of the good ones are rhetorical: if we’re native to this solar system, why is our star such a potent carcinogen? Do Steve and Eydie now and again lean back in sumptuous, vermouth-informed reverie and actually discuss their triumphs, regard their trophies and show-business honorifics by late-afternoon desert light, or do they merely reconnoiter in a now somber, common silence? How do bustlingly crowded churches and pediatric cancers share the same room? Whence the friendly hand-holding Ghost? It’s a fact that Life is fluorescing around us in a cyclonic rage of unapprehended sounds and furies; the grasses bursting upward, the birds yelling, airplanes spitting fire and heat, snails crunching noisily along littered forest floors, their stupid eyestalks waving around to no apparent avail. Cars collide and carom all over the world, quantum whatnots doing much the same thing but with less visibly dramatic effect. You wouldn’t ordinarily guess at the presence of the roiling mushroom cloud we inhabit in our quietude. In this doozy of an astral plane you can be making love to the accompaniment of birdsong one hour, and in the next be screaming madly as your head is ineptly sawed off by a disgruntled scarved theist. Yeah, it’s a pageant.
But, oh my Word, also this. Two nights ago at the red naugahyde-booth restaurant, so reminiscent of the Officer’s Clubs of my AFB youth; the restaurant’s nattily costumed proprietor, in his superfluous, ceremonial red vest, stopped along a highball-and-plate-littered table to speak to a man dining gingerly, and somewhat awkwardly, with his elderly mother, several tables distant from my own rust-freckled naugahyde perch. In the sepia bath of the beveled faux-chandeliers, the scene was without sound but not without effect. The proprietor engaged the man’s mother in conversation, placing his hand on her shoulder as would a congenial confidant. She tilted her beautiful face to receive him and I saw that her expression was alight, suddenly. Her lovely eyes blazed at this sincere businessman, blazed with utter, unshielded delight. Not with a simple explicable smile, but with a clear, radiant and eternal expression of bliss, an absolute incandescence, a contagion. Then her grown son’s own face, as he watched the proprietor lean into his brittle and ecstatic old mom, became beatific. It was a circuit. He saw our god, such as He is. In the restaurants and restrooms and parlors and living rooms and on the graying daylit street corners of this sometimes crummy burst of color and feeling, He roams in His approximate loving beauty. God! Walking along, and probably a little above, a covertly beer-stained carpet. Edifying the unstubborn. Full stop.